9 Best Hidden Lakes In Tennessee (Escape The Crowds)

There are plenty of lakes in the state of Tennessee, but many of them become quite crowded during the warmer months.

No worries, as in this guide we’ll show you the nine best hidden lakes in Tennessee where you can escape the crowds (for the most part) for a day on the water.

After you check out these hidden lakes, have a look at this guide to Tennessee’s 13 most stunning swimming holes as well.

Chilhowee Lake

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Chilhowee Lake is a beautiful spot tucked between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest, stretching over 1,743 acres. 

It’s perfect for those who love to see mountains and nature. 

The famous road, Tail of the Dragon, is right by the lake, attracting motorcycle and sports car fans. The lake’s dam and powerhouse are historic sites. 

It’s a peaceful place for kayaking, fishing, or camping in the mountains.

Watauga Lake

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Hidden in the Appalachian Mountains, Watauga Lake is one of the most scenic and secluded lakes in Tennessee. 

With the Cherokee National Forest and the Appalachian Trail nearby, it’s a paradise for hikers, campers, and boaters. 

The clear mountain waters are ideal for fishing and water sports, while the surrounding area offers breathtaking views and quiet spots to relax.

Lake Ocoee

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Also known as Parksville Lake, Lake Ocoee is nestled in the Cherokee National Forest. 

Famous for hosting whitewater events during the 1996 Olympics, it’s a hotspot for rafting and kayaking adventures. 

The surrounding area offers camping, hiking, and mountain biking trails. It’s a perfect blend of thrilling water sports and serene natural beauty.

Tims Ford Reservoir

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Situated in south-central Tennessee, Tims Ford Reservoir is renowned for its bass fishing. 

The lake’s clear waters also make it a popular spot for boating and waterskiing. 

With multiple state parks and recreational areas along its shores, visitors can enjoy hiking, picnicking, and golfing, making it a versatile destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Watts Bar Lake

Credit: Carol Movre

Spanning over 39,000 acres, Watts Bar Lake in eastern Tennessee is a haven for boating, fishing, and swimming. 

With its vast size, there’s plenty of room to explore. The lake features several islands and coves, ideal for a quiet day of fishing or an adventurous day of exploring by boat. 

The surrounding countryside offers picturesque camping spots.

Bays Mountain Lake

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Bays Mountain Lake is a small but charming lake inside Bays Mountain Park, Tennessee’s biggest city-run park. 

You can enjoy a 45-minute boat trip here, learning about the area’s history and seeing animals like deer and turtles. 

The park is huge, with a planetarium, animal areas, and an adventure course with ropes and zip lines. 

Plus, there are over 40 miles of trails for walking and biking, making it great for families.

Center Hill Lake

Center Hill Lake, looked after by the US Army Corps of Engineers, is near Cookeville, Tennessee, along the Caney Fork River. 

The lake stretches for 64 miles and covers 18,220 acres, with three state parks along its shores: Edgar Evins, Burgess Falls, and Rock Island. 

It’s a must-visit for anyone trying to see all of Tennessee’s state parks, and you can visit the nearby hidden gem of Cummins Falls State Park while you’re in the area as well.

Radnor Lake

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Radnor Lake, in Radner Lake State Park, is right in the Nashville area, close to downtown and the quaint town of Franklin. 

It was made in 1914 by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company for steam trains and livestock. 

Now, it’s a 1,368-acre wildlife haven where city folks come for nature programs, canoe tours, wildflower walks, and stargazing hikes.

Herb Parsons Lake

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A short drive from Memphis, Herb Parsons Lake offers a peaceful fishing and boating experience. 

This man-made lake is stocked with fish, making it a great spot for anglers of all levels. 

The surrounding trails are perfect for hiking and biking. 

It’s a wonderful day trip destination for those looking to escape the city and enjoy the tranquility of nature.